Palace to address travel advisory issued by US

MANILA — Malacañang on Friday assured it would look into the travel advisory issued by the United States to the Philippines for lack of security measures at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

“We are looking into the United States Department of Homeland Security’s travel advisory, including their recommendations on how the government may tighten its current security measures, particularly as regards the safety of our airports,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.

“Ensuring the safety of the traveling public is one of the critical interests of our government in view of the looming threat of terrorism,” he added.

Panelo said the government intends to use the inputs of the Philippines’ global partners, including international assessment bodies, such as the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), whose latest security audit findings were found to be “generally satisfactory” with ICAO standards of safety and security.

He assured that the Philippine government, through the Department of Transportation (DOTr), the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), and the Office for Transportation Security (OTS), are prioritizing the implementation of strict security measures at the country’s premier airport.

Panelo said procurement of more X-ray machines, walk-through metal detectors, and alarm systems is among the recommendations.

“We are aware, however, that all these take time and, as airport authorities explained, they expect such equipment to be installed and utilized only in the second quarter of 2019,” he said.

“We thus laud the existing efforts of our various officials in the transport industry who have tirelessly made sure that our passengers reach their destinations from our transit stations safely and efficiently. ‘Tanim bala,’ for one, is a thing of the past,” he added.

Panelo, also Chief Presidential Legal Counsel, said the administration of President Rodrigo R. Duterte remains “fully committed in our continuing efforts to enhance and secure our airports and eventually protect and ensure the safety of travelers.”